Afghan Taliban kill head of government media department

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban shot and killed the director of Afghanistan’s Government Information Media Center on Friday, the latest killing of a government official and one that comes just days after an assassination attempt on the acting defense minister.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that the groups’ fighters had killed Dawa Khan Menapal, who ran the government’s press operations for the local and foreign media.

In a statement Mujahid put out later, he said Menapal “was killed in a special attack of Mujahideen” and was “punished for his deeds.”

Mujahid did not give any more details. The killing of government officials by the Taliban are not uncommon, and several recent attacks against civilians have been claimed by the Islamic State. The government most often holds the Taliban responsible.

The war between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s government forces has intensified over the past few months as U.S. and NATO troops complete their pullout from the war-torn country. The Taliban are now trying to seize provincial capitals after already taking smaller administrative districts.

The killing of Menapal occurred as weekly Friday prayers were being said, Interior Ministry Deputy Spokesman Said Hamid Rushan said. It was unclear where Menapal was at the time of the shooting.

Late Tuesday, a Taliban bombing attack targeting Afghanistan’s acting defense minister killed at least eight people and wounded 20 in a heavily guarded upscale neighborhood of Kabul. The deputy minister was unharmed.

The blast was followed by a gun battle that also left four militants dead. The Taliban said it was to avenge its fighters killed during government offensives in rural provinces.

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